First Minister: NICOLA STURGEON
Deputy First Minister. Sec. for Covid Recovery — JOHN SWINNEY
Sec. for Finance & the Economy — KATE FORBES
Sec. for Constitution, External Affairs & Culture — ANGUS ROBERTSON
Sec. for Education & Skills — SHIRLEY-ANNE SOMERVILLE
Sec. for Health & Social Care — HUMZA YOUSAF
Sec. for Justice — KEITH BROWN
Sec. for Social Justice, Housing & Local Government — SHONA ROBISON
Sec. for Net Zero, Energy & Transport — MICHAEL MATHESON
Sec. for Rural Affairs & Islands — MAIRI GOUGEON
See below for: Progress towards Independence * Government programme 2021-22 * Full list of Cabinet Secretaries & Ministers * MSPs elected on 6 May 2021
Laying the groundwork for INDEPENDENCE
Of necessity, the first part of First Minister NICOLA STURGEON’s address to the SNP Annual National Conference on 29 November 2021 dealt with the coronavirus pandemic and the measures her Government is taking to control it. The following are extracts from the remainder of her address.
Welcome to the SNP’s Annual Conference. We gather at what I hope is a turning point for the world. As the dust settles from the historic COP26 summit, I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud to call Glasgow my home city. The outstanding organisation of the event, and the warm welcome from Glaswegians, won praise from almost every international visitor I spoke to. I met so many inspiring people from all corners of the world, keen to hear of the contribution that Scotland is making to tackling the climate emergency. And, in turn, we learned so much from others. Scotland made many new friends and forged new relationships that will serve us in good stead in the months and years to come.
Democracy and fairness are key to building a better Scotland. So too is a strong, sustainable economy. Scotland is blessed with natural economic advantages. We have unrivalled energy resources. We are at the cutting edge of the industries of the future, and are home to some of the world’s best universities. Our food & drink industry is an extraordinary international success story. We are a highly-skilled and educated people with a history of enterprise and innovation. Through the Scottish National Investment Bank, the National Manufacturing Institute and the Young Persons Guarantee, we are building for the future.
But just as on child poverty, a UK Government that Scotland didn’t vote for is undermining the strong foundations we are seeking to build. This UK Government has taken Scotland out of the European Union, out of the European Single Market and out of the Customs Union –- all against the wishes of the majority who live here. The Brexit it has imposed upon us is already damaging our economy and restricting opportunities for our young people. All of that is bad enough –- but there may well be much worse to come. The Tories appear to have embarked on permanent conflict with the European Union. Instead of building bridges, they are burning them. They are threatening to rip up the Withdrawal Agreement that Boris Johnson himself hailed as fantastic and ‘oven-ready’. And in so doing, they risk a trade dispute with the EU that will set back our recovery from the pandemic and do untold damage to our economy.
This may suit a Tory Party that sees EU-bashing as a vote winner, but it would be a disaster for Scotland. Years, or even decades, of arguments with the EU is a recipe for instability and economic weakness. In the post-pandemic world we will need more co-operation between independent countries, not less. And the only way for Scotland to build those relationships on a secure basis is through independence. Nowhere is co-operation more essential than in tackling the climate emergency. As a rich developed nation, Scotland shares a responsibility for a climate crisis which is already wreaking havoc in some parts of the world. Just as we have helped cause the problem, Scotland has a moral duty to be part of the solution.
And whether independent or not, Scotland, with an SNP Government, will always show leadership on this most pressing of issues. That means leading by example – which we did, and were recognised as doing, throughout COP26. It means making the investments needed for our transition to net-zero, and our forthcoming Budget will set out the next steps we intend to take. It demands accelerating our move away from fossil fuels, but doing so in a fair way which protects the livelihoods of those working in oil and gas and secures a low carbon energy supply. That’s why we are establishing the North-East Just Transition Fund. These transitions are not easy, but they demand leadership, urgency and rational decision-making.
And here, again, we have a UK Government that too often hinders rather than helps our progress. In the run-up to COP26, the Tory government made two inexplicable decisions which passed none of these tests of leadership, urgency and reason –- decisions which will undermine efforts to tackle the climate emergency. Firstly, it cut Air Passenger Duty for short haul flights within the UK. And, second, it refused to give priority backing to the obvious site in the North-East for Carbon Capture & Storage. This is a decision that will cost Scotland jobs and make our journey to net-zero even more difficult. It should be reversed.
But we should not be reduced to pleading with a UK Government to do the right thing. With independence, we won’t have to. Friends. My task as First Minister, above all, is to do whatever I can to keep Scotland safe. That is my first duty –- and during this pandemic it is the heaviest duty imaginable. I will always seek to discharge my responsibilities as First Minister with energy and commitment and to the very best of my ability. But keeping a country safe is not just about the short term. It is also about building the strongest possible foundation on which to build our future. I defy anyone to look at the broken, corrupt, self-serving Westminster system that we are currently part of, and conclude that it provides a secure basis for the future of Scotland. So I would not be discharging my duty to the people of Scotland if I did not seek to keep the promise on which we were elected –- to offer the people of Scotland the choice of a better future through independence.
Friends. Next year, COVID permitting, as we emerge from winter into spring, the campaign to persuade a majority of people in Scotland that our future will be more secure as an independent nation will resume in earnest. In the course of next year, I will initiate the process necessary to enable a referendum before the end of 2023. And, just as importantly, our party will set out afresh the positive case for independence. We will outline the opportunities and advantages that independence will open up. The opportunity to repair the damage of COVID –- including the fiscal challenges it has created for all countries –- in a way that aligns with our values and priorities as a nation. To use our financial and human resources to tackle poverty and give young people a better life. To use our vast natural resources to help safeguard our planet and secure green jobs for the future. And to rejoin the European family of nations, so that we can expand, not narrow, our horizons, and grow our trade across the whole of the continent.
We will also be candid about the challenges the transition to independence will present, and set out clearly how we can and will overcome them. And then, friends, we will ask the people to decide. Now, what the UK Government’s response to this will be is not up to me, but my message to the Prime Minister is this: If you have any respect at all for democracy –- and if you have any confidence whatsoever in your argument against independence –- you too will let the people decide. Friends. Let us make our case with confidence. Often in Scotland, we talk about becoming independent as if it’s something unusual, something that no country has ever done. The reality is very different. In the last 60 years or so, more than 100 countries have become independent. Very few –- if any of them –- have the resources and advantages of Scotland. The fact is independence is the normal state of affairs for countries the world over. The self-government it encapsulates is the building block for the progressive internationalism that we stand for. And for countries of Scotland’s size, the simple truth is this: independence works. Our neighbours across north-west Europe are all wealthier than the UK, more equal than the UK and have lower levels of poverty than the UK.
With all the resources and talents we have available to us, I simply do not believe that Scotland can’t match –- perhaps even surpass –- the success of Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Austria and the many other prosperous independent countries that are all around us. I do believe — more than ever in this new world we are facing — that the best way to secure a better Scotland is to take our future into our own hands. An independent Scotland will be an outward looking, welcoming nation. A country that celebrates diversity and works with others to shape a better world. We will be a partner with our closest friends in the rest of the UK, and an EU member committed to values of equality, democracy and human dignity. For people today and for generations to come, that is a future worth standing up for. It is a future worth campaigning for. And it is a future worth winning.
So let us put our shoulders to the wheel of winning and building that better Scotland.
### To view the whole of Nicola Sturgeon’s speech, click on the SNP Headquarters link on this page►
We welcomed “THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD”
The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) was held in Glasgow on 31 Oct.–12 Nov. 2021, but the UK Government ensured that the First Minister of Scotland would be denied any leading role in the event.
The SNP’s message was “A nation in waiting welcomes the nations of the world.” Over 20,000 people, from around 200 countries, attended, including US President Joe Biden, Angela Merkel of Germany, Emmanuel Macron of France, Mario Draghi of Italy, Fumio Kishida of Japan, Stefan Lofven of Sweden, Justin Trudeau of Canada, Scott Morrison of Australia, Narendra Modi of India, Pham Minh Chinh of Vietnam, Alberto Fernandez of Argentina, Naftali Bennett of Israel, Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Guy Parmelin of Switzerland, Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania, Kaja Kallas of Estonia, Moon Jae-in of South Korea, Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Ivan Duque Marquez of Colombia, Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi and Micheal Martin of Ireland. It was the largest-ever gathering of world leaders in Scotland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with several heads-of-state, including President Joe Biden (pictured) and Chancellor Angela Merkel on 1 Nov. 2021. Before that, she had made two keynote addresses, setting out the Scottish Government’s ambitions for the conference. She opened the UN Conference of Youth on Oct. 28-31, which represented young people from 140 nations, including the environmental activists Greta Thunberg of Sweden and Vanessa Nakate of Uganda. Ms. Sturgeon said: “Young people have been among the strongest voices calling for urgent global action to address climate change. They have been an inspiration and I am proud that we are playing a role in giving them a platform at the heart of COP26 in Glasgow.” The First Minister also took part in formal presidency events profiling the action and ambitions of women, young people and states, and joined the UN High Level Champions to promote the role that can be played by governments, at all levels, in tackling climate change.
The Lighthouse design centre in the city hosted Scotland’s Climate Ambition Zone, to showcase innovative low-carbon businesses in a “shop window of the best of Scotland’s climate action.” The Scottish Government co-hosted the Multi-level Action Pavilion in the official COP Blue Zone, to showcase the vital role of states and regions in the international response to the climate crisis, and also played a prominent role in the Peatland, Nordic and Cryosphere Pavilions within the Blue Zone. On 8 Nov. 2021, Angus Robertson, the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs & Culture, hosted a reception at Edinburgh Castle for US Senate and Congress Members, State Governors and other American VIPs attending the conference. Michael Matheson. the Cabinet Sec. for Net Zero, Energy & Transport, said: “Scotland was ready to play its part in delivering success at what was one of the most important global gatherings of the 21st century. This was also a unique opportunity to showcase Scotland to the world, including what our businesses and communities are doing to meet our world-leading climate targets.”
MANDATES and OPINION POLLS
Unionists keep insisting that Scotland’s voters have not granted the SNP Government the green light to hold another Referendum on our country’s Independence.
But given that the definition of “mandate” is “the authority to carry out a policy, regarded as given by the electorate to a party or candidate that wins an election”, this is clearly nonsense. Using this yardstick, the SNP has obviously been granted several mandates since 2014 (see graphic)►
In addition, a succession of opinion polls over the last few months have indicated that a majority of Scots now favour independence, and that the Yes side is in a strong position to win any referendum held in the near future.
It goes without saying that it was imperative for the Scottish Government to temporarily suspend its plans for an independence referendum — or any elections — in order for it to give its full attention to combatting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. With the highly-contagious infection dominating the news, and occupying so much of our Government’s time, it is understandable (but not helpful) that this has led to an increase in knee-jerk impatience, frustration and negativity among some who claim to be in favour of independence.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the referendum can only be held once the virus has been brought under control. On the other hand, a little thing like a pandemic didn’t stop Boris Johnson’s Government from pursuing its crazy Brexit plans to the cliff-edge; and the eleventh-hour deal hastily concluded with the EU at the end of 2020 will do nothing to avoid the severe economic damage now likely to ensue. Many people will be relieved — some horrified and some joyous — over the apparent culmination of this long-running, farcical and jingoistic British saga. On the plus side, the UK finally crashing out of Europe will provide a fresh boost for the campaign for Scottish independence.
Depending on the SNP landslide result on 6 May 2021 and future “mandates” — and the UK Government’s willingness or otherwise to co-operate — choosing the best time to ask the Scottish people again will depend on various factors. These include the electoral reaction to, and economic repercussions of, the UK’s mad decision to leave the European Union, and the resulting pressure the SNP is able to put on the Westminster Government. It also obviously depends on sustaining, or even increasing, a substantial lead for “Yes” in opinion polls. When the stakes are so high, it is essential we get this right. The risks associated with impetuousness, “shortcuts” and a cross-your-fingers, do-or-die “cavalry charge” are patently obvious. Impatience is perfectly understandable, but surely it is better to wait and win than rush and crash! We should be thinking more about winning rather than the date!
Because many valuable lessons were learned from the previous exercise, we will have the benefit of hindsight, and it would not be a re-run of the 2014 plebiscite. In all probability, Labour, Tories and what’s left of the Liberals can count on another relentless stream of anti-Scottish propaganda (blatant or subtle), primarily from the state broadcaster and most of the mainstream media, to assist them in their desire to quash Scotland’s political will. But the unionists know that they can’t rely on the same old lies, distortions, misrepresentations, dodgy statistics and scare stories to deliver a “No” majority the next time. As the old saying goes: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
The INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM
The SNP manifesto for the Scottish General Election in May 2021 contained an explicit commitment to holding a conclusive Referendum on Scottish Independence.
The Government’s Programme for Government 2020-21 included the following declaration on an early Referendum: “INDEPENDENCE. The Scottish Government has a democratic mandate in this Parliament to offer the people of Scotland their right to choose a future as an independent country, in which decisions about Scotland are taken by the people who live here. In 2014, shortly before the referendum of that year, the political leaders of the campaign against Scottish independence affirmed an important principle when they collectively agreed: “Power lies with the Scottish people, and we believe it is for the Scottish people to decide how Scotland is governed.”
“The right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future was also unanimously acknowledged in the Smith Commission report of November 2014 which said: ‘It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose.’ In line with its mandate, constitutional precedents and agreed all‑party principles, the Scottish Government sought an agreement on an order, under Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998, to place a referendum on independence beyond legal challenge.”
The Scottish Parliament passed the Referendums (Scotland) Act 2020 on19 December 2019. This sets out the framework, campaign rules and conduct of polls, and counts for any referendum that is within devolved competence. A future independence referendum would apply these rules. The Government subsequently published a draft Scottish Independence Referendum Bill on 22 March 2021, which includes the question to be asked. The date of the poll will be decided within the current Parliamentary term, i.e. before the end of 2023. If there is majority support for the Bill in the Scottish Parliament, there could then be no moral or democratic justification whatsoever for any UK Government toignore the rights of the people of Scotland to choose their own future.
► The Scottish Elections (Franchise & Representation) Act, passed on 20 Feb. 2020, extended voting rights to all foreign nationals “with leave to remain”, including all those granted refugee status. EU and Commonwealth citizens already have the franchise, but it was critical to extend these rights to others who were born elsewhere, and who have contributed so much to Scotland. The legislation also ensured that our country complied with the European Convention on Human Rights, by making provision for the franchise to be extended to those serving a custodial sentence of 12 months or less.
### Scottish Independence Referendum Bill. Click on the SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT link on this page.
### Your questions answered on Scottish self-government. Go to the INDEPENDENCE page.
Taking control of our RAILWAYS
ScotRail, our national train service, will now be run by a company wholly-owned and controlled by the Scottish Government.
On February 9, Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth confirmed that the service will be brought into public ownership from April 1, following the end of Dutch firm Abellio’s franchise. She said: “An efficient, effective and modern railway is essential to meet our ambitious Net Zero goals – and by nationalising it, we can create a railway that truly meets people’s needs and interests.” All ScotRail staff will transfer to the new entity.
In March-September 2020, the Government spent £452million in support of ScotRail, along with the Caledonian Sleeper, after passenger numbers dropped dramatically as a result of lockdown restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. During this period, the train operators received increased payments to help them with their operating costs and reduced revenues. In the last ten years, £1billion has already been invested to electrify over 440 kilometres of track, and bring about numerous infrastructure improvements across the country. The Borders Railway and faster trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow have been delivered and 14 communities reconnected to the rail network. On the Aberdeen-Inverness line, Kintore station reopened in Oct. 2020, and Dalcoss is expected to reopen by 2024. In the next three years, there will be stations at Reston and East Linton, as well as Cameron Bridge and Leven on the new Levenmouth rail line.
► Cross-border services. The UK Government “temporarily re-nationalised” the InterCity East Coast operation on 24 June 2018, and rebranded it as the London & North-Eastern Railway, which will run until 2025. InterCity West Coast trains were rebranded as “Avanti”, and will be operated by FirstGroup (70%), in partnership with Italy’s state rail company Trenitalia (30%), from 8 December 2019 until March 2026.
________________________________________________________________________________________ DECLARATION for INDEPENDENCE
A host of prominent figures from the arts and academia have pledged their support for Scotland to achieve its goal of self-government. Their Declaration for Independence was published on 9 October 2019, a few days before the SNP Annual National Conference in Aberdeen.
The 12-point Declaration set out the “guiding principles” for a new state, including a written constitution, and the expulsion of the Trident nuclear deterrent. Scotland should refuse to “maintain, stock or use, for itself or on behalf of any other power or government, chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.”
The group also called for Central and Local Government to be “more accountable to the people and more beneficial to their needs”, and said “profit and economic growth should not be pursued at the expense of the wellbeing of the people.” The 501-word manifesto concluded: “It is our belief that the best option now open to the Scottish people is for Scotland to become an independent country.” The original signatories were:–
Iain Anderson, broadcaster; Penny Anderson, writer, journalist & artist; Peter Arnott, playwright; Andy Arthur, graphic artist; Neal Ascherson, journalist and writer; Aly Bain, musician; Nerea Bello, singer; Margaret Bennett, folklorist & singer; Norman Bissell, writer; Alan Bissett, novelist & playwright; Cora Bissett, director & actor; Robert Black QC, Professor Emeritus of Scots Law; Christine Borland, visual artist; Alex Boyd, photographer; Stuart Braithwaite, musician; Stewart Bremner, visual artist; Roddy Buchanan, visual artist; Thomas Clark, writer; Calum Colvin, visual artist; Stuart Cosgrove, writer & broadcaster; Brian Cox, actor; Robert Crawford, writer; Jessica Danz, composer; Sir Tom Devine, Professor Emeritus of Scottish History; Lari Don, writer; Jenni Fagan, writer; Angus Farquhar, artist & musician; Malcolm Fraser, architect; Brian Gibb, animateur; John Gray, film-maker; Stephen Greenhorn, playwright; George Gunn, writer; Joy Hendry, Chapman editor; Douglas Henshall, actor; Robert Hodgens, musician; Rt. Rev. Richard Holloway, writer & broadcaster; Jenny Hulse, actress; Kirstin Innes, writer; Kathleen Jamie, poet, writer & Makar; Jamie Jauncey, writer; Pat Kane, musician; Billy Kay, writer & broadcaster; A.L. Kennedy, writer; Mary Ann Kennedy, musician, writer & broadcaster; Hannah Lavery, writer; Liz Lochhead, poet, playwright & former Makar; Helen McClory, writer; Val McDermid, writer; Murdo Macdonald, Professor Emeritus of History of Scottish Art; Claire McDougall, writer; Jamie MacDougall, singer & broadcaster; Mairi McFadyen, writer; Darren McGarvey, writer; Fiona MacInnes, writer & artist; Alastair McIntosh, writer; Jim Macintosh, poet; Lorraine Mackintosh, actress & singer; Dr. Dolina MacLennan, writer & broadcaster; Aonghas MacNeacail, poet & broadcaster; Cameron McNeish, writer & climber; Michael Marten, academic & photographer; Dr. Ann Matheson, literary historian; Karen Matheson, singer; Alexander Moffat, artist; Momus, musician; Eleanor Morton, writer & comedian; Jemma Neville, writer; Andrew O’Hagan, writer; Aidan O’Rourke, musician & composer; Don Paterson, poet; Michael Pedersen, poet; Karine Polwart, musician & writer; Eddi Reader, singer; Tony Reekie, perforning arts producer; Craig & Charlie Reid, singers; Alan Riach, poet & Professor of Scottish Literature; Elizabeth Rimmer, poet; James Robertson, writer; Donald Shaw, musician, composer & producer; Chris Silver, writer; Ross Sinclair, visual artist; Donald Smith, storyteller; Elaine C. Smith, actress & comedian; Alan Spence, writer; Gerda Stevenson, writer & actress; Will Storrar, minister & academic; Dougie Strang, writer; Ern Strang, poet; Jim Sutherland, composer & music producer; Chris Swan, photographer; May Miles Thomas, film director; Rebecca Wallace, singer & songwriter; Jamie Wardrop, artist; Sheena Wellington, singer: Dr. Gary West, musician, broadcaster & Professor of Scottish Ethnology; Douglas Stuart Wilson, writer & translator; Ruth Wishart, journalist & broadcaster; James Yorkston, musician.
Our SUCCESSFUL record !
11 Sept. 1997 — Scots vote to have their national Parliament restored.
3 May 2007 — the SNP is first elected as Scotland’s Government.
Re-elected in 2011, 2016 and 2021, we continue to govern our country with ambition, flair, imagination and competence.
Check out our achievements over the past 14 years — with only limited powers. Just think what we could do with the full powers of INDEPENDENCE !
### Click on:– www.snp.org/record/
Powers over SOCIAL SECURITY and TAXATION
The Scottish Government’s Social Security Bill, introduced on 20 June 2017, met with unanimous Parliamentary approval on 25 April 2018.
It laid the groundwork for the establishment of Social Security Scotland, to oversee the administration of 11 welfare benefits, worth £2.7billion. The agency will also have the power to top-up and create new benefits, and will be able to exercise flexibility in deciding how Universal Credit is paid by the UK Dept for Work & Pensions. The SNP Government has already confirmed it will use its new powers to:–
Increase Carer’s Allowance to the same level as Jobseekers Allowance; abolish the Bedroom Tax; allow benefits claimants to be paid fortnightly rather than monthly; scrap the 84-day rule which removes income from the families of disabled children; abolish fees for employment tribunals; replace the Sure Start Maternity Grant with an expanded Maternity & Early Years Allowance — restoring payments for second and subsequent children, and providing additional funding for children in low-income families when they start nursery and school.
2018 — Carer’s Allowance Supplement and Best Start Grant pregnancy & baby payment were introduced.
2019 — Best Start Grant nursery age payment; Best Start Grant school payment; Funeral Expenses assistance and the Young Carer Grant will be introduced. 2021 — Scottish Child Payment for children aged under six introduced. By early 2022, all families with children under 16 will be eligible.
The SNP Government will ensure that social security delivery is accessible, and commands the confidence of users by being cost-effective and well-managed. There will be a ‘phased transition’ of the administration of powers over the next few years. This will be overseen by Shona Robison, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing & Local Government. The immediate priority is to make sure there is a smooth transfer of these benefits, and that households continue to receive them on time and in the right amount. The Government has already carried out extensive consultation and discussions with service users and stakeholders, and will continue that work as it develops its policy approach to the delivery of the new benefits.
Longer term, Social Security Scotland will also ensure that services are aligned, and work together for the benefit of the Scottish people. In Sept. 2017, it was announced that the agency would be headquartered in Dundee, together with a further site in Glasgow. When fully operational, the number of agency employees is expected to be in excess of 1,900. There will be a local team in each of the 32 council areas, with a total staff of 400.
This “non-ministerial” department was established on 1 January 2015, and is the authority responsible for the administration and collection of Scotland’s devolved taxes.
These presently consist of the Land & Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and the Scottish Landfill Tax (SLfT), which bothcame into effect on 1 April 2015. The department’s administration of Air Departure Tax has been postponed. Income Tax remains the responsibility of the UK Government and is collected and managed by the HMRC. However, the Scotland Act 2012 gave Holyrood the power to set its own Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT), and this took effect from 6 April 2016.
► The Scottish Government has confirmed it will also use its new powers to:– Bring forward legislation on gender balance in public sector boards in the first year of the next Parliament; enable the public sector to run Scotland’s railways; reduce Air Passenger Duty by half over the course of the next Parliament – further boosting the country’s tourist industry and wider economy; assist communities to benefit from the revenues generated off our shores by the Crown Estate; and ensure money from court fines paid in Scotland stays in Scotland.
POWER GRAB on our Parliament !
The Westminster Government’s UK INTERNAL MARKET BILL could have adverse effects on the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
On 9 Sept. 2020, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Internal Market Bill that the UK Government has published today is a full-frontal assault on devolution. At the forthcoming Scottish Parliament election, the SNP will make the case for independence. More and more, this is not about independence vs. the devolution status quo. It is about independence being only way to protect the Scottish Parliament from being undermined and its powers eroded.”
► The UK Government’s machinations are largely exposed in the letter sent to Ursula Von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, by the European Movement in Scotland on 11 Sept. 2020:–
Dear President Von der Leyen,
I am writing on behalf of the hundreds of members and supporters of the European Movement in Scotland to let you, and all our EU friends and partners, know that we dissociate ourselves entirely from the reckless behaviour of the United Kingdom Government.
We share the view of the European Union that the Internal Market Bill is a breach of the undertaking in the Withdrawal Agreement to negotiate in good faith. It puts at risk the rule of law. It jeopardises arrangements for the continuation of peace on the island of Ireland, and makes more likely a no-deal outcome to the EU/UK trade negotiations. We utterly condemn this disgraceful and underhand proposal and support the EU’s demand that international law is upheld. It is not in our name. In addition, we want to express our concern that the democratic settlement in Scotland is being undermined by this same legislation.
As analysis by the Centre on Constitutional Change makes clear, the Internal Market Bill gives UK ministers new powers to control a wide range of devolved matters. The devolved nations are to have no role in defining the internal market. UK Ministers will gain sweeping powers and can get more, through “statutory instrument” rather than fully scrutinised primary legislation. The mutual recognition principle in the Bill means that goods, services and professionals meeting the standards of any part of the UK can be traded or work in all the others, and as England is by far the largest part, and the UK Government sets the rules there, it will decide. This is not a partnership of equals.
Further powers are given to UK ministers to spend in devolved areas. UK ministers can also decide the conditions of such spending. So the UK will gain more powers and it will exercise them on its own. There is no equivalent in the UK to the binding subsidiarity and proportionality principles in the EU. The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are having their powers cut against the democratic will of the voters of Scotland. This Bill is an assault on democracy. We in the European Movement in Scotland campaign relentlessly for membership of Scotland, and the wider UK, in the EU and for EU values of democracy, the rule of law, international solidarity etc. You will know that the voters of Scotland chose by a significant majority in the 2016 referendum to Remain in the EU.
We ask that our friends and partners in Europe leave a light on for Scotland’s European future. I am writing in similar terms to M. Barnier, to the President of the European Council and to the President of the European Parliament.
► On 1 Oct. 2020, the European Union launched a legal action against the UK Government for breaching its Brexit deal and international law.
Because of the continuing restrictions imposed by devolution, our Government is not permitted to utilise all of the nation’s resources for the benefit of the people, and has no overall control of Scotland’s economy. Currently, Holyrood is almost wholly dependent on block grants or “pocket money” from London.
This means that the ambitions of the Government are necessarily constrained by British recessions and the ever-decreasing funds being made available by the Westminster Treasury. However, astute and careful budgeting has enabled key legislation to be enacted.
The Programme for Government is published every year at the beginning of September, and sets out the actions we will take in the coming year and beyond. It includes the legislative programme for the next Parliamentary year, to drive forward change across all levels of society. A Fairer, Greener Scotland, the Government’s Programme for 2021-22, sets out the progressive actions we will take to make our country the best place in the world to grow up, learn, work and live in.
►Legislative priorities for 2021-22 will be as set out in the following BILLS:–
Annual Budget (No.1). Gender Recognition.
Bail and Release from Custody. Good Food Nation.
Coronavirus (Compensation for Self-isolation). Miners’ Strike Pardon.
COVID Recovery. Moveable Transactions.
Fireworks & Pyrotechnics. National Care Service.
Fox Control. Non-Domestic Rates COVID-19 Appeals
Two bills will continue their Parliamentary scrutiny:–
Carer’s Allowance Supplement.
Transvaginal Mesh Removal (Cost Reimbursement) (Scotland).
### Full details, including the First Minister’s statement:– click on the SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT link on this page. ### A list of the SNP Government’s principal achievements is at:-– www.snp.org/record/
The SALTIRE Bridge
On the evening of 28 August 2017, First Minister NICOLA STURGEON presided at a ceremony to mark the official handover from the contractors to the Scottish Government.
After a short speech under the bridge’s north tower, Ms. Sturgeon switched on a spectacular Saltire-themed light display on the £1.35billion crossing, which connects Edinburgh to Fife. She shook the hands of workers and took “selfies”, before a procession of around 20 vintage, modern and electric vehicles drove over to the south shore. Other guests at the handover ceremony included veteran workers who helped build the nearby 1964 bridge, local schoolchildren and contractors.
Addressing the workers, the First Minister said: “I can’t tell you how emotional it feels to be standing on this stunning Queensferry Crossing. It is here to do a job and keep our country connected, but it is much more than that. This bridge will be one of the greatest bridges in the world. No — scrub that — this bridge is the greatest bridge in the world! What you have done here is something very special. It is in every way an amazing achievement and I want to congratulate everyone involved. The weather in the middle of the Forth has made sure it was a challenge. But you have made history, and this bridge will serve Scotland for 150 years and more.”
The new crossing is a three-tower cable-stayed bridge, with an overall length of 1.7 miles. Around 2.5 miles of new connecting roads were built, including new and upgraded junctions at South Queensferry, Ferrytoll in Fife and Junction 1A of the M9. It opened for general traffic on 30 August 2017. Shortly before 2am, vehicles heading north were diverted from the Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing. A long procession followed police vehicles, with many of those behind the wheel honking their horns and blowing whistles as they travelled over to Fife. The original suspension bridge will now only be used by buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians.
Working to stay in the EUROPEAN UNION
The Scottish Government is striving to deliver what Scotland voted for — to stay in the European family of nations.
Our Government is engaged in discussions with EU countries and institutions to explore all options to protect Scotland’s place in Europe. An advisory panel, made up of a range of experts who can advise the Scottish Government on legal, financial and diplomatic matters, has been established. The cultural and economic contribution of 127,000 citizens of EU countries resident in Scotland is valued and, despite the negative UK vote, are obviously very welcome to stay with us. The consuls-general of all EU member states attended a summit meeting at Bute House in 2016, to reassure them that their citizens living in Scotland remain welcome. Scottish Government Ministers are talking to businesses, to reassure them that as of now Scotland remains firmly in the European Union. All trade and business with the EU should continue as normal.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Our nation is being taken out of the EU against its will. I regard that as democratically unacceptable. And, of course, we face that prospect less than two years after being told that it was our own referendum on independence that would end our membership of the European Union, and that only a rejection of independence could protect it. Indeed, for many people the supposed guarantee of remaining in the EU was a driver in their decision to vote to stay within the UK. So there is no doubt that this represents a significant and a material change of the circumstances in which Scotland voted against independence in 2014.” The Scottish Government has had direct discussions with European Union institutions and its member states. The First Minister has met with Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, and with other leading politicians. All of the 27 EU nations have been informed that Scotland wants to stay in the EU, and that its Government intends to explore all possible avenues for doing so.”
EU Referendum results 2016: Yellow=remain. Blue=leave ►
Support from STUC
On 12 July 2016, the First Minister met with the General Council of the Scottish Trades Union Congress to discuss fair work and progressive workplace practices in light of the immediate and long-term implications for the Scottish economy of the referendum result.
Ms. Sturgeon said: “I want to stress that this Government will work with the STUC and trade unions to share information, and listen to and understand priorities and concerns. Scotland has a fundamentally strong economy, and we will continue to work with employers and trade unions to boost productivity, innovative work-places and inclusive growth. We will pursue every option to protect Scotland’s position in Europe and, by extension, the interests of EU citizens who live and work here.”
“The European Union has been instrumental in strengthening and protecting workers’ rights, and enshrining key employment rights relating to pay, safe working conditions and the right to unionise. I firmly believe that EU membership delivers many social, economic and cultural benefits for individuals, business and communities across Scotland. We will pursue every option to protect Scotland’s position in Europe, and all the many benefits which that brings in terms of workers’ rights and social protections. That includes our place in the single market and the free movement of people.”
Grahame Smith, the STUC General Secretary, said: “We share the view of the First Minister that the best place for Scotland is firmly within the European Union. We are further assured that the FM is exploring every available option to retain Scotland’s membership within the EU, and is moving to positively address some of the challenges that have arisen in respect of the attitude of the Westminster Government. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Scottish Government to ensure that our shared commitments to inclusive sustainable economic growth continues.”
### Go to the EUROPEAN UNION page for more information and updates.
SCOTLAND MARCHES ON!
The people of Scotland decided that the referendum in Sept. 2014 was merely a milestone on our road to independence.
Video: Allan Patterson. Music: “Tu-Bardh” by Clanadonia
THE NEXT STAGE OF OUR JOURNEY
In successive elections in 2015-2021, we grasped the opportunity to take decisive steps to statehood — to put Scotland on a par with other European nations
Video: Allan Patterson
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www.snp.org/ is the SNP’s main website. Updated daily, so you will be able to catch up with all the latest national news of the party and people. Members can access other information by logging onto: https://my.snp.org/
SNP Membership has soared since the Independence Referendum in Sept. 2014, and now stands at over 119,000*.Now is a good time to take Scotland’s side. Don’t live in Scotland, but would like to help? You can still join the party if you are in Southampton, Swansea, Sligo, San Francisco, Sydney, Stockholm, Singapore….or anywhere else! *as at 31 May 2021.
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Cabinet Secretaries & Ministers
First Minister………………………………………………………………………………………………………….NICOLA STURGEON
Minister for Drugs Policy: Angela Constance
Deputy First Minister. Secretary for Covid Recovery………………………………………………………..JOHN SWINNEY
Minister for Parliamentary Business: George Adam
Secretary for Finance & the Economy………………………………………………………………………………..KATE FORBES
Minister for Just Transition, Employment & Fair Work: Richard Lochhead
Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism & Enterprise: Ivan McKee
Minister for Public Finance, Planning & Community Wealth: Tom Arthur
Min. for Green Skills, Circular Economy & Biodiversity: Lorna Slater*
Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs & Culture…………………………………………………ANGUS ROBERTSON
Minister for Culture, Europe & International Development: Neil Gray
Secretary for Education & Skills…………………………………………………………………..SHIRLEY-ANNE SOMERVILLE
Minister for Children & Young People: Clare Haughey
Min. for Higher/Further Educ.,Youth Emplymt. & Training: Jamie Hepburn
Secretary for Health & Social Care………………………………………………………………………………….HUMZA YOUSAF
Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health & Sport: Maree Todd
Minister for Mental Wellbeing & Social Care: Kevin Stewart
Secretary for Justice………………………………………………………………………………………………………KEITH BROWN
Minister for Community Safety: Ash Regan
Secretary for Social Justice, Housing & Local Government………………………………………………SHONA ROBISON
Minister for Equalities & Older People: Christina McKelvie
Minister for Social Security & Local Government: Ben Macpherson
Min. for Zero Carbon Bdgs., Active Travel & Tenants’ Rights: Patrick Harvie*
Secretary for Net Zero, Energy & Transport……………………………………………………………..MICHAEL MATHESON
Minister for Environment, Biodiversity & Land Reform: Mairi McAllan
Minister for Transport: Jenny Gilruth
Secretary for Rural Affairs & Islands…………………………………………………………………………….MAIRI GOUGEON
Lord Advocate: Dorothy Bain QC
Solicitor General: Ruth Charteris QC *GREEN PARTY
*** To see responsibilities of Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers click on: www.scotland.gov.uk/About/People/Ministers
MSPs elected on 6 May 2021
73 candidates (47.7%) and 62 Constituency MSPs:–
Kevin Stewart (Aberdeen Central), Jackie Dunbar (Aberdeen Donside), Audrey Nicoll (Aberdeen South & North Kincardine), Gillian Martin(Aberdeenshire East),Neil Gray (Airdrie & Shotts), Angela Constance (Almond Valley), Mairi Gougeon (Angus North & Mearns),Graeme Dey (Angus South), Jenni Minto (Argyll & Bute), Siobhian Brown<(Ayr), Karen Adam (Banffshire & Buchan Coast), MareeTodd(Caithness, Sutherland & Ross), Elena Whitham (Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley), Keith Brown (Clackmannanshire & Dunblane), Marie McNair(Clydebank & Milngavie), Mairi McAllan (Clydesdale), Fulton MacGregor(Coatbridge & Chryston), Annabelle Ewing (Cowdenbeath), Jamie Hepburn (Cumbernauld & Kilsyth), Kenneth Gibson (Cunninghame North), Ruth Maguire (Cunninghame South), Shona Robison (Dundee City East), Joe FitzPatrick (Dundee City West), Shirley-Anne Somerville (Dunfermline), Collette Stevenson(East Kilbride), Paul McLennan* (East Lothian), Angus Robertson< (Edinburgh Central), Ash Regan (Edinburgh Eastern), Ben Macpherson (Edinburgh North & Leith), Gordon MacDonald (Edinburgh Pentlands), Michelle Thomson (Falkirk East), Michael Matheson (Falkirk West), Jenny Gilruth (Fife,Mid & Glenrothes),Bill Kidd (Glasgow Anniesland), James Dornan (Glasgow Cathcart), Kaukab Stewart (Glasgow Kelvin),Bob Doris (Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn), Humza Yousaf(Glasgow Pollok),Ivan McKee (Glasgow Provan), John Mason (Glasgow Shettleston), Nicola Sturgeon (Glasgow Southside), Stuart McMillan (Greenock & Inverclyde), Christina McKelvie (Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse), Fergus Ewing (Inverness & Nairn),Willie Coffey(Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley), David Torrance(Kirkcaldy), Fiona Hyslop (Linlithgow),Colin Beattie (Midlothian North & Musselburgh), Christine Grahame (Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale),Richard Lochhead(Moray), Clare Adamson (Motherwell & Wishaw), Alasdair Allan (Na h-Eileanan an Iar), George Adam (Paisley), John Swinney (Perthshire North), Jim Fairlie (Perthshire South & Kinross-shire), Natalie Don(Renfrewshire North & West), Tom Arthur (Renfrewshire South), Clare Haughey (Rutherglen), Kate Forbes (Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch), Evelyn Tweed (Stirling),Rona Mackay (Strathkelvin & Bearsden), Stephanie Callaghan(Uddingston & Bellshill). *= gain from Labour. <= gains from Conservatives.
2 Regional List MSPs (40.3%): Highlands & Islands — Emma Roddick, South — Emma Harper. Total 62+2 =64.
NICOLA STURGEON is First Minister and John Swinney Deputy First Minister at head of minority Government. Leader of the Opposition: Douglas Ross (Conservative). Presiding Officer: Alison Johnstone.
SNP MSPs in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament, on 12 May 2016